Scripture for Sunday: Ruth 1:16-18, 3:1-5
6 But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. 2 Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” 5 She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”
Notes on the Text:
This week we look at another biblical character through the lens of the Enneagram. We are focusing on Type 2, The Helper, through Ruth who is a solid archetype for this personality. Twos on the Enneagram are people who try to find love by being needed. They are the helpers who love to serve and nurture others. They are supportive, kind, upbeat, and tenderhearted. Twos are so in tune with the needs of others, that they may even seem like they are psychic. At their best, they can be tremendous helpers and friends. At their worst, they can be overbearing, manipulative, and demanding. Their fear is that they may be unwanted or not needed. They need to hear that they are appreciated. Their biggest barrier is pride. They often have a hard time sharing their needs and allowing others to serve or help them.
As a transformed Two, Ruth shows us the best of what Twos have to offer the world. Her friendship with her mother-in-law and her commitment to help redeem her was coupled with a deep faith that allowed her to accept help from others. Her need to help her mother-in-law was healthy because she allowed her mother-in-law and Boaz to help her as well.
Ruth was a Moabite woman who married a Jewish man. Her husband had moved with his family into Moab because of a famine in his homeland. All went well until death visited the family. First, Ruth’s father-in-law died and then her husband and his brother. Three women were left helpless without men in a very patriarchal time and culture. Naomi, the mother-in-law, decided to go back to Bethlehem to find some help there from her tribe. She released her daughters-in-law of the obligation of having to go back with her. One of them agreed, but Ruth, being a Type 2, decided to not leave her mother-in-law. Ruth, being a helper, transcended all expectations about age, culture, and religion to help her friend in need. I love that even though Naomi did not expect Ruth to stay with her, Ruth insisted on staying and her words have inspired so many people throughout the ages. Ruth’s words in 1:16-18 are often used in marriage ceremonies as a covenant commitment for people to stay together against all odds. The two women didn’t end up having it easy when they returned to Bethlehem. They had to devise a plan to be redeemed by their next of kin. In their book Biblical Characters and the Enneagram, Diane Tolomeo, Pearl Gervais, and Remi De Roo write, “In Ruth herself, we find the common need of the Two to be a ‘special friend’ who has a privileged place in the life of another…Ruth sets to work gleaning in the field ‘without resting even for a moment’ (Ruth 2:7). This incessant movement is common to a Two undergoing stress: a kind of aggressive attentiveness to one’s basic needs take over…As a moral tale, the Book of Ruth’s emphasis is anti-exclusionist and even its concept of God is presented in terms of the Two: it reinforces the idea that the God of the Hebrews is also the God of the non-Hebrews, a giver who is not limited, who is effusive and full of abundance, and that even foreigners can partake of this generosity and fulfill essential roles in the development of the sacred history…In Ruth…we see many of the issues facing the Two: the fear of being rejected, the strong desire to be loved unconditionally, the search for intimacy and the need to be nurturing and giving. Ruth manifests the positive elements of the Two in her abandonment to a higher purpose, and her accepting the love of Naomi and Boaz as unconditional.”
Ruth was transformed by the experience to allow Naomi and Boaz to take care of her. She set out on a journey of giving and learned through faith to also receive care and love. She found balance between giving and receiving care. In the process of helping her mother-in-law, Ruth also learned to assert her own needs.
In the Christian faith, we are all called to follow the example of people like Ruth, Enneagram 2s. We look at people like Mother Theresa with admiration as an example of true selfless service. We look at the path of Jesus of letting go of his power and his own needs and seek to follow in his footsteps. But where we get trapped, especially as Twos, is in our motivations and expectations. As Twos and those of us who try to behave in that fashion, we fall into the traps of burnout, resentment, and the need to be esteemed or needed. We forget that people like Jesus and Mother Theresa had active personal lives of prayer and rest. They knew how to assert their needs and how to accept care and love from God and from others. They also did not respond to every need that was presented to them.
Here are a few things which we can learn from Ruth:
- Covenant Partnerships: When we partner with others and with God, we enter into those relationships willingly and without coercion. We are an important part of the covenant and so our needs are important in the relationship. The two women in our story shared life with each other. It was all of life with its ups and downs. Ruth shared her suffering with God and with her mother-in-law. Naomi supported Ruth in her search for a new husband and gave her guidance on how to do it. Asking for help is an important part of a mutual relationship. Pride and shame often get in the way of Twos’ ability to ask for help. They believe that other people are needier than they are and that they alone know what others need. But when Twos are transformed, they allow themselves to be loved by God without having to help someone and without any other conditions.
- Our Motivation: When we are motivated to help others, we must keep in mind that only when we don’t expect a pay back in any way that we are acting on a soul level. Ruth did not help her mother-in-law so that she could earn a special favor or recognition. She did what she did because of her commitment to Naomi.
- Boundaries and Self Care: As a Two, Ruth pushed her way into Naomi’s journey back to her home country. Even though Naomi told her that she was going to do this on her own, Ruth did not leave her. While this was a good example of things working out, it is one of the temptations for Twos to become overbearing and intrusive. It is important to remember that healthy boundaries are essential for us to help others without making people dependent on us. Also, healthy boundaries mean that we allow enough time in our lives to take care of our own needs. Twos are often tempted to take care of others all the time so there is no time to deal with their own emotional or spiritual needs. Even in prayer, they seek to pray with and for others more than they do on their own.
As you care for the world and serve God and others, remember to allow God and others to serve and love you. It is never selfish to take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that you may be healthy enough to serve others with humility and dedication. In their book The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Riso and Russ Hudson write, “Twos grow tremendously when they recognize that love is not a commodity that can be won, demanded, earned, or bestowed by someone else – or that can be given to someone else, because it is, in its highest and truest form, not a function of the ego. Love is not a poker chip or a bag of ‘goodies’ that can be given or withheld…We cannot will ourselves to love ourselves or to love others. All we can do, paradoxically, is to recognize the presence of love in ourselves and others. On a very deep level, Twos remember the Essential quality of unconditional love and the omnipresence of love. When they remember their Essential nature and the Divine state that it mirrors, healthy Twos are aware of the presence of love all around them, so there is quite literally nothing that they need to get from anyone – and nothing they can give. Twos help all of us to see that love does not belong to anyone, and certainly does not belong to the personality. We could say that our job in life is not to ‘do good’ or to ‘give’ love to anyone, but to be open to the action of love…This love is balanced, pure, and nourishing –it allows the soul to relax on a profound level. The recognition of the true nature of love brings with it a tremendous sense of freedom. When love is no longer a commodity and is understood as a part of our true nature, as something we cannot lose, we experience an incredible lightness. Our desperate search for attention ends when we recognize that we not only have love and value, at the level of our souls, we are love and value.”
Affirmations by Don Riso:
I now release…
- all feelings of rage and resentment toward others.
- all attempts to justify my aggressive feelings.
- all attachment to feeling victimized and abused.
- the fear that I am unwanted and unloved.
- all attempts to force others to love me.
- making others feel guilty for not responding sufficiently to my needs.
- abusing food and medications to make up for my loneliness.
- feeling that others owe me for the things I have chosen to do for them.
- believing that no one willingly takes care of me.
- expecting others to repay my help in the way I want.
- all physical ailments, aches, and complaints.
- calling attention to what I have done for others.
- feeling possessive of loved ones.
- doing things for others to make myself needed.
- flattering others to make them feel good about me.
- not wanting to acknowledge my negative feelings.
I now affirm…
- that I own all of my feelings without fear.
- that I am clear and conscious of my motives.
- that I am lovable for who I am.
- that my happiness does not depend on pleasing others.
- that I can let go of loved ones.
- that I nurture my own growth and development.
- that I love others without expecting anything in return.
- the joy and warmth that fills my heart
- my gratitude for all that others have given me.
Prayer by Joyce Rupp:
A Psalm of Compassion (based on Psalm 23)
Caring Shepherd and Guide of my Soul,
many things I want—for self and others:
freedom from worry, healing from hurts,
financial security, health of body and spirit,
sturdy relationships, lasting happiness,
an end of needless suffering and sorrow,
a peaceful planet where everything thrives.
You assure me that I do not have to want;
you will lead me to an inner core of peace
and guide me to ways that restore my spirit.
Suffering will serve as a profound teacher,
a catalyst of empathy and understanding
that unites all who sit at the table of life.
You bid me come to you, to release my fears
and allow you to anoint my worries with trust,
to let you lead me to your resting place
where I can listen to your calm, assuring voice.
No matter how dark the valley of tears,
no matter how unending the turbulence,
you are there with your embracing love.
You are forever a reliant, caring presence.
You breathe your strength into my weakness.
You promise to be a peaceful haven.
You are the home where I can always dwell
in your abiding goodness and compassion. Amen.